Hedreich Nichols

May 2021

Let it Hurt

Small Bites Friday Five 5-28-21 

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

20-30m – Review the #SmallBites episode 33 blog Words Get in The Way. Pay special attention to the linked PBS eugenics article and the healthcare in the Black community article. Healthcare is one other system that shows evidence of discrimination and systemic inequities.

15-20m – Read this 2020 Investopedia article from Jean Folger to understand the systems that prevent homeownership and wealth building in minority communities. (Hint: These are not the historical practices of a bygone era.) Be sure to scroll down to the related terms at the bottom and if you have more time, also research the articles and links in the Indian Fair Housing section. The poverty statistics are shocking.

10-15m – Read this Forbes ‘discriminatory real estate practices 101’ article from Real Estate reporter Dima Williams (@DimaVitanova) that gives context to racial disparity in home ownership.

5-10m – Read this Harvard Business Review article about the ways that AI discriminates across gender and color lines. Thanks @brittanypresten @jakesilberg and @McKinsey_MGI. Civics teachers will find an excellent ProPublica article linked there on justice system AI bias and they have included learning resources for anyone who’d like to learn more.

0-5m – https://youtu.be/6T__NKPCkJw the look #talkaboutbias P&G campaign. Finally, the strongest systemic inequities come when we get together in our groups and other people. At the core of every system is one person willing to say it’s ok or willing to topple the top down structures.

I just spent the day with my son. It was a good day. we laughed, had lunch, coffee, fresh from the oven cookies. All that while celebrating him passing his drivers test, moving (finally, thank COVID) from learners to provisional and getting that picture taken at the DPS. It was exciting, I am proud.

As the day nears its end, I am also praying and swallowing down fear. I sent him, on the rite of passage maiden voyage, to get milk. He’s driven over 100 hours while waiting on the DPS appointment. And I sent him, a Black man, in a car alone. Google it. Driving while Black. There are too many tales.

I put his paper provisional license in the glove but wanted to leave it on the seat so his hands would never have to be out of sight if he gets pulled over.

He drives a very unflashy car.

He’s a very safe driver who has had a lot of parctice.

He’s going to be less than 10 minutes from home.

We have had “the talk”. He’s polite and well mannered. He’s about a 36 regular, so not too big or too tall. He is not wearing a hoodie or even dark colors. (For the record, none of these things should matter.)

Yes, all of these things cross my mind because the systems in this country so often disadvantage those who look like my son. How do we dismantle those systems so that moms like me can breathe easier when their kids go for milk? I’ll tell you. Change the one part of the system you can change: yourself.

Your bias and the way you accept or reject the biased attitudes of others around you who teach, storekeep, educate, police, practice medicine, pastor and provide service in every sector in every building in this country will take down systems put in place long ago. Those systems still hold hostage the wealth and well-being of communities throughout our land.

I understand that it is hard to feel like the accused, that never feels good. But can it feel good to NOT be accused while standing within earshot of even the possibility of inequitable treatment of others in our communities? Imagine acting as though you believe there is deep seated racial bias in our country, even if you don’t. Where’s the harm? Will you hurt others? Or might you find yourself lending a hand, an ear, your heart to those who see life from another perspective?

One thing is true, if you have not walked a mile in the shoes of others, you cannot know whether racial inequities exist or not, and all the resources in the world will probably not change your mind. But…if you know you can make someone’s life easier by acknowledging their journey and experience, that makes you a better person, not a worse one. And if you find some truth in the experience of others, that too is a good thing that brings us one step closer to one indivisible nation.

My ask this week, as I sit and wait for my son to get home safely, is for you to be that better person.

Let it Hurt Read More »


SmallBites Friday Five 5-21-21 

20-30m – Review the stuff you slept through in econ and government with this Lumen course. Approach the information with a clear mind and decide, if you could choose, whether you would still choose capitalism, based solely on the description of its merits.

15-20m – This is helpful for those thinking the socio-economic card is in play rather than the race card. Read this short pamphlet with your classes. Enslavement and forced labor might be responsible for the cheap jeans you are wearing.

10-15m – Watch this epic von Mises vs. Marx rap battle from The American Institute for Economic Research. If you can decide which is better by listening to their arguments, let me know, because it seems there are fine points on both sides. The big take-away is that neither system is inherently good or evil.

5-10m – Figure out why people are crying Marxism with this history.com article on Karl Marx, who he was, who he became and how he became our Big Enemy. Watch the video as well. Spoiler alert, it all started with him spurring on workers to organize for fair wages and conditions, and even advocating that the working class be the ruling class (gasp) since they were doing all the work anyway.

0-5m – Read last week’s blog and choose to include everyone’s stories in your teaching. You may not embrace every part of CRT, but you can’t reject the part that advocates for maintaining a world view that embraces diverse historical perspectives and cultural ideologies.

After I had spent every school year being taught about the supreme democracy practiced in the US contrasted with the evil ways of the Red Commies, Sting, in one pop song, taught me to consider the fact that the Russians love their children too. I remember the song and how it caused me to think about whether nations could be good and evil. “There is no monopoly of common sense on either side of the political fence”, he sang. The poignancy accelerated my burgeoning quest for truths and answers to my through-a-glass-darkly questions, yet unasked.

Commies were evil, and the people who headed up sundown towns, burned Black Wall Street and put young Native American children in “Indian Schools” to “Kill the Indian and save the man”, were the good guys. Somehow, the duplicity all came crashing down to the message in this one song. As the questions began to form, I started to seek answers and to realize that no one system is inherently good or evil. I remember thinking that Jesus and the parable of the fishes and loves of bread seemed a lot like communism or socialism. Now, am I ready to trade free market living for a spot in Cuba? No, not even for a 1955 Chrysler convertible. But, do I think that the same greed that makes communism an ill-advised system also makes capitalism an unfair system for the common man? Mebbe so.

Many of the murky questions have formed over the years; why does the wealth gap never close, if America is “the land of opportunity”? Why wasn’t back pay given to the enslaved when they were freed? Why haven’t we done more to honor treaties and land agreements that were dishonorably handled with Indigenous nations? Yes, many questions but not many more answers. And if I come up with answers, what will my part be in the solution?

This article is less a spot for you to pull information and answers from, and more a place for you to begin questioning. Is our way the only way? Are our systems right and the systems that do not mirror our own wrong? Or have we been given the blinders of indoctrination so that we can see our systems for right in order to be satisfied with their offerings?

Only you can decide how much questioning you can take before feeling uncomfortable and perhaps even disloyal. My ask this week is that you wade just a little ways from your shore of comfort and take a look at what’s out there. Maybe, just maybe, you can see our system as flawed, as any human system is. Maybe you’ll learn to accept those flaws and maybe that will make you a better patriot than those who insist on looking away. Ask a few questions, consider a few ideas that are new to you. At the least, you’ll learn something you did not know. At most, you may gain understanding for a different perspective and that is a win for us all.

Russians Read More »

Tell Me No Lies

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

Small Bites Friday Five 5-14-2021

20-30m – Watch this video that explains the Truth Commission of South Africa and the process they used to confront racial violence and inequities. Compare and contrast the similarities of the Apartheid system and issues with our own system

15-20m – Read this Andrew Johnson article and watch the accompanying video on critical race theory. Reflect on his definition and compare it to what you’ve heard or read.

10-15m – Read this Phi Delta Kappan article from Antony Farag on why we do students in schools with predominantly White populations a disservice when we do not teach them to explore varied perspectives and experiences.

5-10m – Read this American Bar article from Janel George that explains some of the basics of critical race theory and its implications.

0-5m – Read this article on confirmation bias from VeryWellMind. Remember, you will be tempted to find information on critical race theory that supports what you already believe. If you have some extra time, read articles on CRT written by those who do not espouse your opinion and take note of valid points. Every argument has them.

Doris Day. Farrah Fawcett. Cindy Crawford. Madonna. Then finally Janet, Whitney, Naomi. Finally.

Watching TV with my grandmother and great-grandmother in our multigenerational household meant that I grew up on a LOT of old Hollywood movies. At that time, movie directors were still selling Elizabeth Taylor as a North African and White extras speaking broken English as ‘Indians’. On the screens I grew up watching, people who looked like me were mostly invisible. Even though the doctors I saw were Black, all the pretty young women I knew in my community were black, the lawyers and stage actors I knew were Black, the amazingly talented musicians I knew were Black and the hard-working everyday heroes I knew were Black; the message mainstream media presented to me was that if you were not White, your story, your accomplishments, were not valuable and not worthy of being visible.

When you see don’t see yourself in history, stories and achievements represented in textbooks, magazines and on screen; when you are taught through classical education that the great philosophers and composers were White and mostly from Western European civilizations; you internalize a message of being less than because society constantly tells you who is greater than. That is what “White supremacy” is at its core. It’s not people being mean or even discriminating against others. It’s an acceptance of messaging that values whiteness and white cultures over others. That value—and lack of value for diverse cultures— plays out in a million ways in education, economics, healthcare and other sectors. If you are White, you may not notice. If you aren’t White, it’s your norm. Now, if I were White and reading this, I might read this and feel angry, accused or even feel I was being guilted up about something I have no control over.  

It is not my intention to make anyone feel guilty about the systems that value western White cultures above others. I just hope you can imagine what it’s like for those of us who are from the many great societies that do not get the airplay that White ones do: I want you to think about what it would be like to live, for example, in China where you see Chinese stars and Chinese scientists and Chinese inventors, and where you are taught about the great ancient Chinese societies and philosophers and great Chinese achievement. You, however, are not Chinese. Can you imagine feeling small and insignificant? Can you imagine the energy it takes to develop and maintain your own sense of self-worth, when you rarely see people like you being touted for their contributions? That is what happens when society values one culture over others, when one culture is rated as ‘supreme’. Conversations about White supremacy are not some politically motivated reverse racism. They are simply a struggle for acknowledgement and needed change: non-White stories and cultural achievements have not been valued in the way that White ones have, and that puts us at a disadvantage.

If you are an educator, especially one skeptical of critical race theory or curricula like 1619, I get it. It seems to upend everything you’ve learned. But, as my great-grandma said, what we don’t know can fill a big book. The world was once believed to be flat, but we’ve evolved. Is it possible that knowing the truth about Andrew Jackson and the Trail of TearsJapanese war heroes or the enslaved man responsible for the path that led to vaccine success can help us evolve and make us stronger, better, greater?

I have one ask: Consider how your students feel when they only hear about their historical greatness through the stories told in their homes and at family gatherings. If there is even one student feeling small and insignificant, can you make a difference? Can you be responsible for telling stories that change how students see themselves, which will change learning outcomes and contribute to transforming economic and health outcomes for whole communities? Can you divorce yourself from the rhetoric of critical race theory and just concentrate on the humanity of inclusivity?

Consider the power that you wield as an educator open to evolving as we learn more. The important questions have nothing to do with critical race theory or identity politics. The only important question is, are you willing to do the very best for each student whose life you touch. If you are, start by asking yourself, “who else was there” whenever you teach. By starting on a truth finding mission, you will be able to understand more and begin to reduce the size of that big book my great-grandma talked about. I wish you a wonderful journey of discovery, a journey that will be exceptional in its simplicity and transformational in its impact.

Tell Me No Lies Read More »

For the Mamas

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

SmallBites focuses on issues of belonging and identity, and intersectionality is one of those topics. This week, I will focus on intersectionality in a unique way:

So many of us who are in the classroom are dedicated to our kids–our personal kids and our school kids. I know my personal kid has displayed sibling rivalry a few times throughout the years, and he’s an only child. Of course he knows that he is my kid, but he knows that they are too. That is how us mamas, us parents are.

I am a teacher, I am a parent, and a big part of who I am is at that intersection.

While the resources here are mostly geared toward educators, shaping the world starts in our own personal corners. So if you are a mama, a grandmama, a surrogate mama, a play mama, or simply a person of any gender who mothers all the time or from time to time, this blog is for you.

Small Bites Friday Five 5-7-2

Before – Before you become a mama, think carefully about your own ideologies and beliefs. Does your stance leave room for the beliefs and ideologies of others? How do you meet ‘others’ in the real–and virtual–world? Are you respectful and ready to model being a good person by your own highest definition? Armed with intentionality, prepare yourself to model being the person you hope your child will one day grow up to be.

Littles – If you have ever watched littles bonk each over over the head with a toy they just took, you will know that humanity in it’s best form, has to be taught. Begin with these tips from Jen Cort’s conversation with Sarah Hershey and this wealth of resources from NPR. If you have experienced discrimination or if your kids are mixed race (code for Black, ask Barack Obama), Kamau Bell has some tips and resources to help you navigate the spaces we find ourselves in.

Middles – My book “What is Anti Racism?” from Cherry Lake Publishing is an excellent place to start. Although it talks primarily about anti-Black racism, it opens talking about how we other and treat people because of their identity. Throughout the book there are reflection questions and activities so that you can your kids can talk or go beyond just talking.

Young Adults  With summer reading lists on the horizon, how about a family book study? Here is an allyship lesson plan from Bryanna Wallace and Autumn Gupta called Justice in June. Even if you are planning on binge watching more than reading, you can pull from this comprehensive resource to do more than ‘have conversations around race’. Further, this Rich in Color list links to several other sites and lists to expand your horizons.

Solo Flyers  By now, you have done your job as a parent and hopefully you have raised thoughtful, empathetic children who care about others. Maybe you and your children share values, maybe you have divergent beliefs. If so, this is where you practice acceptance and embrace them for who they are. Still, if discussions tend to get heated at family gatherings, here are a few tips to help you keep Mother’s day celebratory. And if relationships are strained, you are not alone, but just know, there is no reason they have to stay that way.

And finally, this Lagniappe from Common Sense Media with great questions to guide conversations with children of all ages.

For the Mamas Read More »